Sizzling Fajitas!

Kathleen Horner

Tex-Mex cuisine claims the origin of fajitas, specifically in the ranch lands of South and West Texas in the 1930s, where less expensive cuts of beef were cooked on an open fire and served with tortillas to Mexican ranch hands (vaqueros). But the recipe’s true source is tacos “al carbon” (cooking over a coal), a Mexican tradition.

It’s a dish served sizzling hot from a smoking cast iron skillet (por favor, no lo toques!). Order it with traditional skirt steak, grilled chicken, or shrimp—or all of them. Fajitas are served with warm tortillas and condiments including pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, refried beans, spicy salsas, and chili oil. Smear any combination of these condiments on your tortilla with fajita meats and vegetables, roll up, eat, and repeat.

Sizzling Fajitas are the most popular dish on the menu at Tail of the Whale Restaurant, where golfers enjoy a hearty version of the recipe served with a blend of Cheddar, Oaxaca, and Gouda cheeses. Order up a mixed skillet of arrachera-seasoned skirt steak, San Blas shrimp, and thick slices of chicken breast with peppers, onions, and a lime cheek. The cheese blend melts nicely over the dish, or you can order the cheese on the side. Half-portions are available. A lighter version of fajitas can be found at La Cabana on Avenida el Anclote (“restaurant row”) in town. No cast-iron skillet here, but the portion is perfect for one and the tasty chicken and beef slices are very tender. The dish is served piping hot with a rich dollop of re-fried beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, and guacamole. Choose from warm flour or corn tortillas. A collection of hot sauces and sweet mango sauce accompany.

Can’t find fajitas on the menu at other restaurants? Think like a pirate—Captain Jack Sparrow, for example. In Punta Mita and Punta de Mita, a menu “is more what you’d call a guideline, really.” All of the ingredients are in local restaurant kitchens, usually. Pick a quiet daypart like lunch, smile, and just ask.

Up the street at La Pescadora, your waiter will proudly agree to have the chef make fajitas like his grandmother used to make (“como mi abuela!”). Order the mixed fajita skillet there (or share it with a friend). Lightly seasoned shrimp, thick slices of grilled arrachera steak, and chicken breast sizzle with a luxurious mix of vegetables: cremini and Portobello mushroom slice, whole spring onions, tomatillos, bell peppers, and jalapeno. Reach into a warm basket of blue corn and flour tortillas. Small bowls of chili-oil blend, fresh salsa of habanero and serrano chiles, guacamole, and pico de gallo add adventure to each bite. Rice and beans accompany.

Add a little sizzle to your next dining adventure. Buen provecho!